James (synesis) wrote in ontd_political,
James
synesis
ontd_political

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What are demons, really?

A lot of people still believe in demonic possession, and because their convictions are based in mainstream religious faith, we are supposed to take them a little more seriously than other people's equally strong conviction that grey-skinned aliens stuck medical instruments into them, or that the Royal Family are shape-changing drug-dealing lizards from another world.

After all, even Anglican Bishops get asked for permission to exorcize – we have a State Church which allows for the possibility that there are people walking around the streets who have fallen angels using them as sock-puppets. The Catholic Church is even more invested in this idea; indeed the Holy See's chief exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amforth believes that demonic influence lies behind the more unseemly of recent shenanigans in the Vatican itself. No wonder many of the devout have issues with the popularity of the Harry Potter books – Harry's struggle with Voldemort is all too close to how they themselves experience reality.

Specifically, and not just in Africa, demonic possession, often transmitted by intercourse, is their explanation why people are gay or trans, and their perfect reply to the argument that Christianity is all about love and tolerance. Get the demons out, by any means necessary, and no more queers – problem solved. The weirdness of thinking that beings of vast intelligence and potency that once saw the face of the Almighty, and fell through spiritual pride aeons ago, now spend their time lurking in people's genitals, never seems to concern them. I suppose they think such demons picked this job rather than possessing hedge-fund managers.

It's interesting to compare these attitudes with what, shall we say, those playing for the other team think. Many of the followers of Aleister Crowley are unsure that the supernatural beings with whom they attempt to have a working relationship are beings with objective reality – rather, they are ways of seeing, mental states that can be attained by meditation and ritual. I've talked to other occultists who will have none of this liberal claptrap – followers of Crowley's former secretary Regardie who believe that the creatures they raise, compel and interact with are actual beings, with winning, if difficult personalities. "Lots of luck with that" they'll snort at their rivals who are trying to achieve mental states rather than partying with Entities until the small hours.

There are parallels here - some Christians will talk about demonic possession, but pressed will retreat to talking about people having some sort of "spiritual flu". Others will encourage a sort of holy bulimia where people get together and spit out beings that range from the demon in charge of evolutionary thought to the demon in charge of buying Lady Gaga's albums into conveniently large brown paper bags. Then of course, there is the wide variation of practices described as the laying on of hands, which most people think of as an admonitory finger on a forehead but can be ten strong male adults holding down a frightened teenage girl in a way that in any other context would be regarded as sexual assault.

The trouble with all this evil nonsense is - once you've started looking at your fellow citizens and wondering whether Mrs. Smith down the road is actually having her strings pulled from inside her skull by Choramzon or Beelzebub, or for all I know Shib-Niggurath, the Goat with A Thousand Young, it becomes a wonderful explanation for why she jumped the queue at the greengrocers. It also makes jumping the queue in front of her at the bread shop not only convenient, but part of an epic, indeed cosmic, struggle going back to the beginning of time. It certainly makes it easy to vote for a city banker who regards you as deluded electoral fodder if you think that the other parties are being secretly run from the Seventh Circle of the Inferno.

SOURCE: Guardian

I think this article points up a couple of good things -- the first being the increased presence of fundamentalist Christians in positions of political power in the UK, notably the appointment of Phillipa Stroud, who believes homosexuality can be cured through prayer, as SpAd to Iain Duncan Smith at the DWP. Secondly, I think the final paragraph is a good pointing-up of some of the conspiracy-based insanity that's so much part of the discourse of not only American politics but increasingly the UK as well. As always, Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics remains the best brief analysis of this mentality.
Tags: lgbtq / gender & sexual minorities, psychology, religion, uk
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